I was honored to interview two women who have devoted their lives to correct domestic abuse and be a healing counselor for those who have been sexually abused as well. Kathy Norton is a House Mother in a home for women that were sexually assaulted located in Paterson, NJ. Women can visit this house as a shelter to get away from being sexually abused further. The second interviewee chooses to remain Anonymous due to her position in the Paterson Domestic Violence corrections . She counsels the men that have abused women in a classroom setting to learn other methods to channel behavior in a relationship.
1. Can you briefly explain the domestic violence/sex abuse program that you both worked for? And your positions there?
Kathy- I work as a House Mother for women who were sexually assaulted.
A.- I run a program for the men who have committed domestic abuse and supervise DV and sex offense cases.
2. As a woman, what is one of the hardest parts about dealing with the men that hit women?
Kathy- Just viewing the men as little boys.
A.- Trying to respect these men even with hearing the stories.
3. Are there any stories you came across that really changed how you view the issue of domestic violence?
Kathy- If you watch the movie “The Burning Bed,” that impacted my view on domestic violence.
A.- I knew of a woman who had her daughter brought in for a charge that the Grandfather was raping the Granddaughter and now she was pregnant by him. The mother was not shocked because it was him that had been raping her for years and in fact was actually the Father of the younger daughter as well. He was the Grandfather/Father to the child he was now raping. The wife of the Grandfather knew since the time it starting happening that her husband was assaulting her daughter and let it happen. The wife did not protect her family members and continued to be with him. This one single man ruined the lives of his all these women. The older daughter lost hope in life and later contracted HIV. This story always stuck with me that one person has a ripple effect on others. Unfortunately, due to his age this man never received time for actually impregnating his Granddaughter and daughter. The wife still stayed with him as they cooperated with the authorities.
4. Do you believe that the men who hit will always use violence to channel their anger or that they can be cured/realize they made a mistake?
Kathy- Rehabilitation is for those who want to receive help. I do believe men who get help for themselves will learn to channel their anger elsewhere.
A. – They have to want to change.
5. What is something you think society should know about the men who hit women that we may not understand?
A.- The men usually come from domestic violence homes and were brought up with women in their lives being hit. They do what they were taught. They were often hit themselves.
Kathy- We should view them as victims too.
6. How should we view the women who stay in abusive relationships?
Kathy- They should not be ridiculed. They stay for various reasons.
A.- No one wants to be in poverty. Women who live a certain lifestyle get used to their lives. Statics show that more women die leaving than staying with someone with the mentality “if I can’t have you no one will”. Most women stay for their children or come from a culture that accepts domestic abuse and frowns upon divorce. Men pick women they feel have low self-esteem from thinking that they are ugly or not worthy. They will verbally control them by saying “no one will love you but me” which makes the women stay. I want to stress that we must never re-victimize the victim twice by saying “you’re so stupid for staying” or shaming. You never walked two moons in their moccasins.
7. As someone who has seen this issue from all angles, what would you tell our readers that may be in a abusive relationship now?
Kathy- If the abuser does not recognize that he/she has a problem and doesn’t want to get help, then you need to leave.
A.- Women were not put on this Earth to be beat on. As Albert Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”